BAN ON PESTICIDES

Invasive pests and diseases to rise if pesticides banned, says agrochemical association

Says it will not help especially in the tropical conditions and areas experiencing an invasion of pests

In Summary

• Agrochemical Association of Kenya says ban on pesticides will reduce production in areas experiencing invasion of pests and diseases throughout the year.  

• Crop pests and diseases contribute to about 30-40 percent loss in yields, which is equivalent to an annual loss of between Sh19.3 billion to Sh23 billion.

If Clothianidin, a chemical used to control the maize lethal necrosis, is banned, maize farmers could suffer up to 90 per cent yield losses.
If Clothianidin, a chemical used to control the maize lethal necrosis, is banned, maize farmers could suffer up to 90 per cent yield losses.
Image: File

Blanket banning of pesticides without due consideration of risk assessment will not help, says the agrochemical association.

Erick Kimunguyi, chief executive officer of the Agrochemical Association of Kenya (AAK), said the ban will not help especially in the tropical conditions and areas experiencing an invasion of pests and diseases throughout the year.  

He said this in a submission to the National Assembly Health Committee.

His views are captured in the Report of Public Petition on Withdrawal of Harmful Chemical pesticides in the Kenyan market.

The petition calling for the ban of at least 200 chemicals used locally was presented by Uasin Gishu Woman Representative Gladys Boss Shollei.

Proponents of the ban cite adverse effects of pesticides on humans, wildlife, and the environment, and that there is a lack of regulatory oversight in the use and disposal of pesticides.

But Kimunguyi emphasised the need for pesticides adding that crop pests and diseases contribute to about 30-40 per cent loss in yields, which is equivalent to an annual loss of between Sh19.3 billion to Sh23 billion.

This is attributed to invasive alien pest species in maize such as the spotted stem borer, Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND), and an invasive weed known as Parthenium hysterophorus.

There is also the Tuta absoluta a new pest in the horticulture subsector in the country which is estimated to cause yield losses of approximately Sh5.2- Sh5.9 billion.

“Severe limitations on the number of products available without all the necessary considerations will make sustainable use of plant protection products difficult, particularly in managing the development of resistant pest populations,” he said.  

According to Kimunguyi, a ban on the use of pesticides that are needed in order to grow food will have a ripple effect on food security.

He explained that there will be insufficient production due to the effect of crop diseases and pests. This will reduce farmers' income and impact their livelihoods. It will also make food expensive making it not accessible to the majority of the Kenyan population.

“There will also be a reduction in foreign exchange as fresh produce export will be affected, in addition to the loss of jobs as manufactures will let go of some of their employees,” said Kimunguyi.

Timothy Njagi, a senior researcher at Tegemeo Institute of Research and Policy, said Kenya has a well-developed policy for pesticide use and disposal and that the ban would be destructive.

“Alternative proposals for ensuring safe use and disposal of pesticides are likely to lead to better overall outcomes including achieving the objectives of the proposed ban. The country could lose more than Sh150 billion if the ban is put in place, an equivalent of 16 percent of the gross domestic product,” he said.

Paul Ngaruiya Pest Control Products Board said they have stringent ways of vetting pesticides that are used in Kenya, and ensuring that counterfeits, expired, unregistered and substandard pest control products are removed from the market.

“PCPB inspects about 7,800 premises annually and the board’s analytical laboratory also regularly analyses formulations of pesticides in the market for quality. PCPB analyses about 358 samples collected from various agricultural productive counties in Kenya every year. Pesticides are actually designed to be toxic, this calls for their judicious use," he said.

A worker at the Mombasa showground sprays pesticides in preparation for the ASK Trade Fair on August 14, 2017
FOOD SAFETY: A worker at the Mombasa showground sprays pesticides in preparation for the ASK Trade Fair on August 14, 2017
Image: / JOHN CHESOLI